THE RENAISSANCE OF SPARKLING WINE

W15

(AND THE OVERTAKING OF FRANCE)

 

 

Italians have been feeling cocky of late, thanks to the recent Nielsen data regarding wine export. The French will not be happy about this data, but it seems that Italian sparkling wine beats Champagne as far as numbers of bottles exported is concerned. The three regions with the highest export figures include Franciacorta in Lombardy, Astigiano in Piedmont and the above all, the Prosecco region, in Veneto and Friuli. And interestingly, red wines are not among the range of wines particularly appreciated by foreigners. However, there are a number of sparkling wines, all types of Controlled Designation of Origin whites During 2014, Prosecco accounted for half of the total Italian wine revenue, which stands at five billion euros. The more passionate fans are actually located in the UK, which has seen a boost of 45% in bottle consumption for this product, compared with the previous year.

Within such a wide-ranging category, a real connoisseur knows how to distinguish at least two types: Prosecco, which is having huge success abroad and which has gained more than 30% in popularity , and the so called ‘classic method’ (a champagne-like spumante). Any foreign customer could actually be mistaken for a sommelier in any part of the world, if he could explain in a few words what the differences are between the two wines. The difference is actually extremely subtle for the most part. However it can be rather pronounced for the more passionate among us, and this explains why this distinction between the two wines is often not clear even for Italians.. This differentiation is dependant on location, and the type of grape used, but most importantly by the processes used during   production.
The method used will determine the ‘fizziness’ which is what its admirers appreciate the most. With Prosecco, the bubblesare made through the ‘Martinotti’ method, with the use of large metal tanks, whilst in the Classic Method, the ‘spumantizzazione’ is accomplished in the bottle. The differences between the two products can also be seen in the times and costs of production. The first type requires a waiting time of a few short months and costs less to produce and creates a fresher product. The second ‘classic method’, on the other hand, demands more patience, has a lengthier production time and higher costs, resulting of course, in a more expensive and elaborate product.

With the rise of Prosecco comes the risk of forgery. Italian producers should feel responsible for their ‘baby’, as it leaves the nest to discover the world and should do their best to improve quality over price.

Italian sparkling wine, be it Prosecco or Classic, needs to be enjoyed at the right temperature, like a Champagne, and- that is at 7-10 degrees, otherwise it would lose its characteristics. Unfortunately not everyone follows those rules, not even in Italy. Despite this recent victory over France, Italian wine culture could benefit from improvement and better developed.